St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Winterizing on the Farm and Tractor Troubles

With the warm weather coming to an end (probably the warmest November and warmest overall Autumn I can remember), decided to get to the winterizing.
Tulip bed around the old mailbox in the yard.  When it was hard for Mom to walk down to the road mailbox, the post office allowed her to have one in the yard.  We turned it into a flower bed.

Spent the morning spreading hay to mulch the strawberries, blueberries, tulip bed, septic tank and the drainfield. Most years snow does this, but it is better to be prepared.
Two months ago, I bought a Leyland 344, 1972 diesel tractor from my brother. He had it many years and was ready to get rid of it as he still has two other tractors and it was having some problems.
Snow blower and Leyland both in the machine shed shared by two Farmalls, a lumber pile, corn planter, corn elevator and a much more tools including a full blacksmith setup scattered about.  


So I bought it as a more powerful tractor for the farm. It is about 50 hp, has 3 point hitch, and although older, runs pretty good and has the things an old guy wants, power steering, live PTO, and live hydraulics, all missing on my other tractors.
Diesels are notorious as hard starting in winter. As I hadn't started the Leyland tractor for several weeks -- it started fine in 50F temperatures we have been having, yesterday I thought I would try starting it at 30F.

It turned over a little, but the battery quickly gave out and it never fired at all. So today I followed brother Marv's instruction (it was his tractor) and plugged in the water hose block heater and the battery charger and left them for three hours and then it started up fine. I don't plan on using it for a winter tractor, but was curious if I could--and most tractors should have a monthly start to keep them functional.

The Super C Farmall didn't get its start this year. It wouldn't start, even when Scott pulled it up and down the road. No spark. So I pulled out the battery and the wiring harnesses, hidden away under the steering posts had been invaded and chewed up by a mouse. I have normally cranked this tractor, as the starter bearings are bad, so decided to give it a rejuvenation.
New starter, new battery cables, new on/off switch, new plugs, new points, and new wiring where the mouse had been. Still in the process of working on it -- but the new starter certainly turns over fine even with the 6-volt battery (one year old). So that tractor is a few days and a few parts from being ready.
The 350 Farmall is back in the garage waiting for some more work and the loader I bought from Sister-in-law Connie. Had planned to get that going (it runs OK, but the gas tank needs cleaning, and the steering hydraulic hose leaks, and a few other annoyances as well as it needs new engine rings. But as it is planned to be a loader tractor, the rings can wait. I let it spin over a minute or two so the engine would not rust in place.

Anyway, to get back to the winterizing, tried the Cub Cadet and found out the battery was dead even with my battery maintainer connected. The battery is old, but with a maintainer I had hoped to stall off a new one until next year. It appears the maintainer has given up maintaining, so a new battery and new maintainer are next. The snowblower is really the only winter tractor
I need to run unless I am hauling wood.

I have the 9N Ford which starts good even in winter with a shot of ether in the manifold for hauling wood and with the back blade for cleaning the driveway, but I use that at the maple syrup farm 2 miles away.

The rest of the winterizing is in the house with some plastics on a few of the oldest windows, and some furnace tuning. Ready for the brunt of cold weather ahead soon.

Margo is keeping it warm inside busy baking cookies with help from our son Scott, who likes cooking. They make 5 or 6 batches of one type of cookie each day. This week they made mint chip, peanut butter topped with a Hershey kiss, and pecan balls. They took a few hundred to the open house at the Luck Museum as treats.




Saturday, November 19, 2016

Deer hunting story part 2

A few years ago I began a deer hunting story that was continued.  I finished it today.  You need to begin at the beginning, so start at this link.  Deer Hunting Story Part 1   and then continue back here. 

“So where did you hit the deer?” asked Byron, wondering if my hunting story would ever get finished so he could start his.  
“Well, I didn’t find that out until much later.  After I saw the deer floating out in Rogers Lake, I had to figure out how to get it out.  Marv and I had done some fishing that summer at the lake when we worked the afternoon shift at Dresser plastic factory and Dad didn’t have any morning jobs on the farm.”
“That job at UFE was pretty boring.  We sat at the hand plastic molding press, with the cement block wall right behind the machine and used our arms to close the mold, swing over the very hot injector, lock it in place, wait a short time, then swing it back and open the mold, all day long, a straight eight hour shift with 10 minutes for a break and sandwich,” commented Marv.  
“Yeah it was 100 degrees in the building.  I remember we each were allowed a fan – that helped a little.  Got $1.35 per hour – about $50 per week to save for college.  Think we worked there for 3 months – must have made about $600 – about half of the college cost, “ I added. 
“I worked at Stokely’s every summer during college,” said Ev, “got about twice that much with the 90 hour weeks and higher pay.  Enough to pay for a year of college.  And I was so tired of 7 days a week and long hours, even college looked good to me by September.”  
“Do you remember when we went on strike?” added Dad, who also worked one summer and part time other summers on the field crew at Stokely’s too.
“Get back to the deer story,” complained Byron. 
“Well, I walked down along Wolf Creek, walked across at the big beaver dam and found Marv hunting on his 40.”
“I had my 55 Chev Belair, that I earned from working at the Nelson Pea Viner when I was 16 parked at Grandpa’s house.  Figured we might be lucky and Mack Fors’ boat would still be at the lake, so we drove up, opened Uncle Marice’s gate and back to the top of the hill where I parked it.”
“Probably where Rogers’ Hotel was located.  All that is left is a hole in the ground and a lilac bush.  When Dad bought it the building was still standing.  Big wide old white pine boards.   We tore it down and I used some of it in fixing up the barn on the farm,” said Dad referring it his father who had originally bought Uncle Maurice’s farm on Rogers Lake. 
“Did you know Thomas Rogers was killed by being gored by a bull?  His kids divided up the land, several hundred acres, and Clara, who married Charles Marriette, moved down the creek and built the buildings where Grandpa Gene lives now,” said local historian Russ. 
“We scrambled down the snowy hill to the edge of the lake. Mac’s old boat was there tipped upside down with the oars under it.  We got it launched along the trail of old boards that sort of made a path through the thick cattails to the edge of the lake.  I remember if was froze over along the edge, but most of it was still open.  We sort of shoved an oared it out to the open water and then rowed out to the middle where the buck was floating high in the water, looped a rope over his horns and started rowing back when we noticed the boat was leaking pretty badly.”
“Yah, you gotta put those old wood boats in the water for a week to swell up before you use them every spring or they leak like a sieve,” commented Dad.  “We used to saw out some thin ½ inch basswood planks for boats when I was a kid and my dad had his big sawmill. Big wide planks for the sides and a flat bottom with a few ribs.  Could make one in a day even with hand tools.  They were light, watertight after they swelled up, and lasted several years if you painted them and kept them in the water all summer.”
“There was an old coffee can in the bottom, so Russ bailed while I rowed as fast as I could until we got on the shore.  By then we had both stepped into the lake edges and our boots were soaking wet inside, and it was really cold outside too.”
“I remember we dragged it up on the shore to hard ground on the hillside and you did the gutting,” I said.  “You had done it before, and I hadn’t.   I remember the deer insides were warm, and felt good to my frozen wet fingers.”
“So where did you shoot it?” asked Ev.  
“It was really odd” said Marv, “no bullet holes in the deer at all, and even when we skun it out later, no holes in the skin.  Almost like the deer died of a heart attack from seeing Russ whale away with his gun.”
“It was all bled out inside, so it was hit good.  Just no entry or exit wound.  We didn’t find a bullet inside either, but we didn’t really look through the guts and we left the heart, lungs, and innards,” I said. 
“It was decent sized 6 point buck.  Sort of short fork, but husky horns” said Ev who every Sunday sat at the dinner table at Mom’s across from the mounted deer horns on the wall. 
“So did you ever get a theory on how you shot it?” asked Byron.
“Yes, you remember how I told you that when I shot, the buck sort of jumped in the air did a bunch of gyrations and twisting around before taking off after I shot him from the rear?  Well, I think I shot him right in the bung hole, and with his gyrations the bullet went right up through the twists and turns of his intestines, into the stomach and then out into the heart, where it probably lodged.  Only way I match the lack of holes and the inside damage.   Probably that doesn’t happen every day, but that is what happened.”

“Do you remember the big buck I shot on the sand – back in ’67,” began Byron, before the rest of the folks could digest the bullet story.  



Monday, November 14, 2016

Cataract Surgery record and cost estimate

11/11/2016 Cataract Surgery Details
(This is my medical record of the left eye cataract surgery.  My comments are in parenthesis).  
PREOP DIAGNOSIS: SENILE CATARACT, LEFT EYE. PREOP INDICATION: POOR VISION AND ASTIGMATISM, LEFT EYE.
Date of Surgery: 11 NOV 2016
Visit Type: Outpatient
PostOp Diagnosis: Senile cataract, left eye.  

(Not sure if the cataract was senile or the patient)

Procedure: > Phacoemulsification with implantation of a Toric intraocular lens, left eye.
(slice and dice the old lens suck it out and put in the new one)

GRAFT/IMPLANT INFORMATION:
Lot/Serial #: 21136080007, Catalog/Model #: sn6at5-17.0D, Implant Name: lens, toric aspheric sn6at5-17.0, Manufacturer: Alcon Laboratories.

(information as to lens information for possible recall.  I wonder if the serial number is written into the lens so my body could be id’d by it like breast implants -- maybe a bar code?)

Implant Placement: Left In the preoperative holding room, the horizontal meridian of the left eye was marked with the patient in the upright position using the Toric lens marking system. The patient was then brought to the operating room where the correct surgical site was confirmed with the patient, the medical record, and all members of the surgical team.

(with the Sharpie pen marked top and bottom for lens on my skin around the eye )

Under monitored anesthesia care, a retrobulbar injection of 2% lidocaine solution with hyaluronidase was given. With adequate anesthesia and akinesia, the left eye was prepped and draped in the usual sterile fashion. A lid speculum was placed to retract the eyelids, and the operating microscope was rotated into position. Using the markings that had been placed preoperatively, the 65-degree meridian was identified and marked using the Toric lens marking system.

( draped -- Covered all of my head but my left eye hole opening with a Menard’s-like tarp, numbed it and propped it open, and got the microscope in place to magnify the eye area.  The doctor didn’t use his naked eye to see what he was doing, but a highly zoomed in view to see all the tiny details of my eye)

A paracentesis was then created at the inferotemporal limbus using a No. 75 blade. Through this limbal paracentesis, the anterior chamber was inflated with Healon Endocoat. The anterior chamber was entered again, this time through the temporal limbus using the diamond blade. A capsulorrhexis was initiated using a bent 25-gauge needle as a cystitome and was completed in continuous and circular fashion using the capsulorrhexis forceps.
(cut a tiny opening into the eye lens lining and got the ultrasonic probe into the lens area)

The lens nucleus was then hydrodissected and hydrodelineated using balanced salt solution injected through a 27-gauge cannula. The phacoemulsification tip was introduced into the anterior chamber and was used to sculpt two perpendicular grooves in the lens nucleus. Using these grooves, the lens was mechanically disassembled into four equal quadrants, each of which was emulsified and aspirated in turn.

(using salt water, pressured syringed the old lens loose from its covering -- the lens capsule, Then using the tiny ultrasound probe like a knife, cut the old lens into four pie wedge sections and then broke each of those four into tiny fragments and sucked them out)
The residual cortical material was removed using the automated irrigation-aspiration handpiece, and the capsular bag was polished with the irrigating polisher. The capsular bag was reinflated with Healon, and the wound did not require enlargement.

(Cleaned up the lens parts. The old lens was held in a capsule (lining) and polished that smooth and clear so all of the old lens was out and ready for the new one).

A 17.0-diopter single-piece acrylic Alcon model SN6AT5 acrylic Toric intraocular lens was loaded into the injection cartridge and was inserted into the capsular bag where it was allowed to unfold in its appropriate position. The lens was oriented at the 65-degree meridian as suggested by the Toric lens calculator.

(Inserted the new lens that was folded up tiny, and then unfolded it into the right spot and adjusted it to be lined up for the astigmatism angle.  Toric is the name for a lens with astigmatism correction built in -- an additional $1000 cost to me, but worth it as it will actually mean I can see distance without glasses).

The lens power selected was based on a careful review of the optical biometry measurements (IOLMaster) that were obtained preoperatively. The residual viscoelastic material was removed in its entirety using the automated irrigation-aspiration handpiece, and the wound was demonstrated to be self-sealing with no suture required. Cefuroxime was instilled into the anterior chamber at the conclusion of the procedure. The lid speculum was removed, and the eye was patched with Maxitrol, following which a shield was placed.
(With everything correct, and the tiny opening so small no sewing up needed, everything was removed, and a few bandages and a shield taped over the eye)

The patient tolerated the procedure well, and there were no complications. The total phacoemulsification time was 42.7 seconds with an average phacoemulsification power of 29.9%. The cumulative delivery of energy (C.D.E.) was 5.16. The patient returned to the preoperative holding room in satisfactory condition.
(The time on the machine to get rid of the old lens was 42.7 seconds,  Probably the machine cost is about $1000 per minute so maybe the time is to charge for that very expensive unit).  


The Medicare estimate of cataract removal appears to show that my cost is $728.  I think my supplemental insurance will cover most of that. I selected a $1000 extra option for the Toric lens to get rid of the large amount of astigmatism in my eye.  I always figured the astigmatism was in the lens, and that it would go away with a new lens, but it is in the cornea in front of the lens which is not replaced in cataract surgery.  The cornea can be fixed with laser surgery sometimes -- what they call Lasik I think.  Anyway I chose to deastigmatize with the lens.  

Medicare estimate  (I pay about $728).  
I chose the Toric astigmatism correcting lens so that added $1000
My Medicare supplemental insurance will likely cover most of the $728 if I have my co-pay deductibles for the year paid already.  


Friday, November 11, 2016

I Can See Clearly Now, the Cataract has Gone

Cataract removal – left eye   Day 1  11/11/2016

At 7:15 am I checked into Mayo Clinic Gonda Desk 7 for my cataract surgery.  Some forms to fill out and then 15 minutes waiting.
  I visited with a woman, probably in her 40s who was having the first of two cataracts done.  “I can’t see well enough to drive now, and should have done this earlier, but was scared to do it.  However, Dad had his done recently, and he said it was wonderful, and pushed me into getting it done.”
Some of the pre-cataract surgery eye exam machines



Bed side monitoring machines



  A member of the surgery team then took be to the back to a small room—sort of a hospital bed room, but smaller.  I set in a chair that was both chair, hospital cart and hospital bed—my home for the next hour and a half.
After the id check (state your name and birth date) affixing a wrist band, connecting heart monitoring electrodes (the ones that stick over your chest hair and act as hair removers when they are detached), and an IV opening.  I had a few minutes alone, so got out of the chair and watched the heart monitor and blood pressure monitor.  Heart rate was 72, with an occasional skipped or abnormal beat (something I have had for 30 year and is considered normal), and blood pressure was 136 over 115.  The 115 is too high, and I can hear my family doctor rattling me about losing weight, exercising and taking some BP medicine when I see her in three weeks for my annual lecture on healthy living.  
Prepared for surgery with eye numbing gunk oozed into the eye and taped over to hold it there
The nurse who hooked up the IV tried the left hand for a vein, then the right hand, sticking me each time (these sticks are hardly noticeable as the needles are very small) and finally got one in the left arm.  Flabby veins or something like that was the comment.
The anesthesiologist came in, someone as old as I am, and got some more info and told me I was going to be given a local cream based numbing agent that would deaden the whole area around the eye, as well as a mellowing agent through the IV as I would be awake and somewhat alert during the procedure, but they didn’t want me too alert.
He said “I think I must have worked with you back in the 80s—at least Russ Hanson sounds familiar.”  I wasn’t quite in my best memory mode so couldn’t make the connection, but later realized that group I worked in at that time had one project to computerize the anesthesiology surgery record – and likely bumped into him then.  Still a little vague though.  I spent 25 years at Mayo and was in a lot of projects and am much more memorable to others than they are to me, as I was always involved in projects that brought change (computers) and folks were generally rather intimidated by changing to computers in those days. And things that happened 30 years ago are not quite as clear to me nowadays anyway.  
Dr. Kanna, my surgeon dropped in, now making about 5 folks in the small room and marked with a Sharpie pen a dot above the left eye to make sure the left eye was the right one to operate on.  Then he marked the orientation of the lens ---“have to get it in right as it has astigmatism correction—so there is a top, bottom, and angle to measure.”  More black marks around the eye  -- sort of like a bullseye with crosshairs (I actually couldn’t see them, but they may show up after I get the patch off).
The preliminaries all done, the chair was wheeled to the surgery area.  “How many cataracts in a day done here?” I asked. “About 24 today (three surgeons working today) and as high as 32 on busy days.”   I think they do two surgery days a week most of the time.    Scott, in the waiting room, said he watched a steady progression of folks going in with glasses and coming out with eye patches.
The Mayo building and the Gonda building are two buildings that appear as one inside.  Seventh floor on the Mayo side is the eye doctor side, and on the Gonda side is the surgery side.  Some of seventh is for urology, so I made sure the nurse pushing my chair aimed towards the eye surgery area.
The operating room was the size of a large living room, lots of instrumentation, and machines.  I was tilted flat, the chair becoming a bed, and the hovering folks began to hover.  One kept the IV (anesthesia) dripping and monitored my vital signs; a couple were the surgery assistants, and some others were there to save any removed parts in case of an autopsy. 
“If it is alright with you, I am going to video the procedure today.  Monday I am gving a talk to the folks in the eye area about cataract surgery and want to show them. Most of the staff never get back to the operating room,” said the surgeon. 
“Sure” I said, hoping I might get a copy of it for myself.  However that does not appear to be likely as I asked him about it after the surgery.  “Not even sure it recorded OK, and then we have to edit it before the talk.”  However, I will nudge him on this again in 3 weeks when I see him for the progress report.
My guess is he chose me for the model patient for the staff to see as my photogenicity is really quite high. 
As I had ask him to describe what he was doing during the surgery so I could understand it, and that fit with the video, I got the blow by blow details.  Although I was mildly sedated, I think I can remember the gist of it all.
I was in my street clothes, with only my glasses off and some blue paper shoe covers.  No removal of belts, shirts, or anything, but a hospital gown over my shirt. Then my head was completely covered with a blue tarp (not Menards), with a hole cut out so to the operating staff, I was an eye peering out of the sea of blue plastic.
The rest I am going to write as if the doctor said it, but as I was a little woozy and of course I can’t remember exactly, you have to accept there is likely some missing, added, and misstated parts.
“First we open a tiny hole in the edge of the eye to insert the ultrasonic probe into the lens.  Then, with my foot pedal (speed control?) I use the probe to make four pie slices of the round sort squashed spherical lens (think of a soft M&M candy).  Then I vibrate each slice into small fragments and use the vacuum part of the probe to suck out the fragments.  The lens is inside a lining so I carefully clean it out right up to the capsule that holds it and suck it all out.”
The ultrasound probe and vacuum made different musical tones based on speed or vacuum level (not sure which or maybe both).  “The sound helps me gauge the speed/vacuum levels so I can tell how the probe is working.”
I was able to ask questions and seemed like I was rational, and I asked “How do you get the big lens into the tiny opening, or do you have to make it bigger and swe it up?”  “The lens is sort of folded up and I can slide it into the empty capsule and unfolded it inside.  It is a flexible plastic, so it bends easily.  The opening is so small I don’t have to sew it up after I get the lens in.”
 
“Now I have the lens inside, and I have to get it oriented the correct way so your astigmatism axis is right.  There are several adjustments I do sliding it around until it is just where it is supposed to be.   After surgery it takes a while for it to get fixed into place and so you have to be gentle with your head movements and keep your fingers out of your eye so it remains lined up perfectly.”
“All done.  Everything went the way it is supposed to.   Looks good.  Now you can get unhooked and I’ll see you at 3:30 pm this afternoon.   Remember, it will look strange at first, and gradually get better and better over several months, although in a day or too should be usable.  See you this afternoon”  Don’t drive today, and let me know if anything seems abnormal.”   Abnormal was changes like flashes of light, worsening vision instead of improving, pain, etc. 
And I got unhooked, some more instructions on being gentle on the head and eye for a month or so, and walked out with Scott, my left eye patched with some gauze and a metal shield. 
Getting around with one eye, as I had already learned with Myasthenia Gravis in 2012 (I had to patch one eye for a few months to get rid of double vision), is sort of like dropping your vision level to 1/3 of what it was with two eyes.  Everything seems unreal and incompletely there.  And sitting in the passenger seat with Scott driving was clearly necessary as I didn’t think I would have felt safe to drive myself yet.
At home, I took off the shield to put in the two different kind of post surgery drops (5 minutes apart) and got really worried.  I could see through that eye, but everything was sort of like looking through a snowstorm and whatever came through the left eye was slanted about 30 degrees – like the TV screen was tilted that much—the whole world was.   Gee whiz, did the doctor get the lens put in rotated by 30 degrees?
Remembering the doctor and nurses said “your vision won’t be normal for a day or two, and then will keep improving for months” I refused to panic and turned to Dr. Google who assured me that as the numbing agent wears off, the slant should go away too.  At 1:45 pm, I tipped up the patch to look out and the world is level with both eyes, but the left eye sees a white fog over everything.  So I won’t panic yet, but keep waiting to see what happens.

Post surgery with temporary eye shield and still a little sleepy from the mellowing agents
Update:   4 pm day of surgery
The good news: went in for my post surgery checkup and took the eye patch off and I can see pretty good already with that eye. The doctor says it will take a few more days to get to normal, but everything looks pretty good. 


The bad news: My glasses are no longer any use for the left eye as it has been corrected. I can't really get new glasses until about 1 month when the vision is completely stable from the surgery. "All I have to do is remove the left lens from my old glasses and the distance vision will be good" I told the doctor.
"Don't you remember me telling you that doesn't work right with severe nearsightedness like yours?" he replied.
"Sort of, but remind me why again"
"Your right eye still has to use the glasses -- and for nearsightedness, the lens makes everything you see smaller. And your new left eye leaves them larger, like they should be. So you will see one big image on top of a small one. It will be enough difference it will confuse your brain"
"So can't I get glasses that will fix that?"
"No, you either have to shut one eye or patch one, or get your other eye done too. I knew you would need that, so if you want to go ahead, I scheduled it in 30 days on December 9th. That is as close to each other as we do the second eye."
So I am in that sort of between stage where my new eye sees much better, but won't work together with the old one. I already learned to read with one eye shut, and drive with one eye shut when I had myasthenia gravis double vision, so its back to that for a month.
The new eye lens gives me whiter whites, more colorful colors, but is still a little foggy -- sort of like a bar in the smoking days. That is supposed to clear away soon. Overall, I think it was quick, easy, painless, and likely to improve my life. However seeing folks more clearly may change some of my friendships.
In college, a girl friend always took off her glasses when I came to join her at the library or lunch table. "You are just vain and want to look better," I told her. "No I take them off so you will look better!"

Friday, November 4, 2016

November's Bright Warm Weather


Time to plant fall bulbs and keep some for forcing

I grind up leaves with the mower. 
November 2016 has started with exceptionally mild weather, continuing the September and October trend.  Here on the Farm, our flowerbeds are mostly still in bloom, some tomato plants are still growing, and the fall raspberry plants are bearing.  According to my calculations we have had 200 days growing season so far, with the first real killing frost here on top of the hill at least a week away. 

We did have a couple of frosts that hit the tops of the morning glories and a few tomato vines, but that just pruned them a little. 

Hauled a couple of loads of wood to the cabin from Grantsburg where friend Walt's trees are dying from Oak Wilt. Sad to see so many oaks dead or dying in this area. Have to cut a few more loads of dead elm (died from Dutch Elm disease) and will be ready for maple syrup season in March. With the Ash trees next in line to die, the butternuts mostly gone too, one wonders if there will be any left in the future.

Best chance is for scientists to genetically modify the trees to adapt them to the problems. Right now there is not enough profit to be made in doing that, but in a few years, the process will be even easier than it is today so we may see some of these trees come back again.

Elms are somewhat different in that they seem to be able to grow to about 20 years old before getting diseased--and that gives them time to reseed more elms. The huge spreading elms in the cow pasture of my youth all died in the 1960s and 70s so my son has never seen the elm lined streets of a city that we remember. However, the 20 year old elms are perfect for firewood. They die during the spring or summer, and a year later, still standing, they are dry and immediately ready to cut and burn. Don't know how I got along with out them in the old days, as now we have a ready supply of dried wood available at anytime -- there are many of them along the road ditches and farm fencelines and in the open patures.

The parts came in that should let me repair the starter on the Farmall Super C tractor. The starter solenoid (a mechanical one) and the battery cables are weak, and I think the starter may be wearing out too, but first the cheap parts go in. I haven't used the starter for years, as I just crank it, but it would be nice to have it start easier! The old 6-volt tractors never did turn over very well, and so most of my tractors are converted to 12 volts--probably should do that with the Super C too, as 12 volts to a 6 volt starter turn it over faster and don't require such heavy cables.

A few photos from the Farm and neighborhood this week.



Painting the house -- this is the north side.  The bottom part is done, top part scraped and ready for primer and a coat of finish paint


Didn't sell apples this year.  The extremely wet year caused a great deal of apple scab, rusts and other problems making so many blemishes the apples didn't look appealing at all.  Next year I add a fungicide to the Sevin spray I use.  Warmer and wetter years, what scientists predicted for us in Global Warming, is here.  For us, it means an earlier maple syrup season as well as getting used to wet warm conditions that foster more plant problems. 


Got the west side and here (north) sides of the house painted this fall.  Only the east side left -- for next year.  The house was built in 1917, so the new paint is to celebrate 100 years!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Autumnal Eco Knocks

Autumn colors are coming fast.  Took a walk to the pond on the Farm and enjoyed the quiet, only broken by the distant sound of combines in the soybean fields.
DSCN0143DSCN0129DSCN0133DSCN0136DSCN0137DSCN0138DSCN0142DSCN0149DSCN0151DSCN0154DSCN0155DSCN0070DSCN0075DSCN0078DSCN0079

Saturday, September 17, 2016

2016 River Road Hwy 87 Ramble 9/24/2016

 2016 River Road Ramble 
 2016 marks the 11th Annual River Road - Hwy 87 Ramble.   The person who makes it all work is Joan Swanson, one of the members of the Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society (SELHS) which sponsors it.  
   This year we have about 30 people who have enrolled officially to have stops, sales, open houses, events, etc., along the 30 mile loop tour between Grantsburg and St Croix Falls.  
   Eleven years ago, I was writing a weekly newspaper column, entitled River Road Ramblings.  The September fall color was spectacular and early that year, and I invited my readers to take a Ramble up the River Road.  
   Joan, another SEL member, Marcie and others in SELHS  thought it would be a good excuse for a celebration and enlisted local businesses, churches, and folks along the road to invite folks in for a yard sale, farmers market, craft sale, or just something interesting to look at.  
   Eleven years later, we are still doing it, and each year we get a little more participation, a few more folks touring the area, and it is a tradition now that folks look forward to.  
  This year's information is on Facebook at St Croix River Road Ramble -Facebook  as well as at Ramble 2016 
   Our own stop, the Hanson Farm, is missing pumpkins and apples this year with crop failures, however we will have maple syrup (excellent year) and lots of good squash as well as a garage sale.  The apple crop, while there are many apples, has many visual defects that really make the apples unsalable. A late freeze, huge amount of rain, and some hail did its work on the apples.  So we are giving them away free if folks want to pick them.  They were sprayed regularly with Sevin so aren't wormy (or at least are mostly worm free), but as I don't spray a fungicide, wet years leave the cosmetics of an apple quite visually unappealing.  Peel off the skin and under you have the beautiful white apple excellent for eating, pieing, crisping, saucing, and otherwise enjoying.  At least 1/2 of the 25 trees got caught by the freeze and didn't bare this year. 
   I have to put up my signs that say farm visitations are at your own risk.  Wisconsin passed a law that puts the risk on the visitor rather than the farmer for agro-tourism.  The sign says:

 That doesn't totally absolve the farmer from having obviously unsafe places accessible on the farm, so I will need to block off the old silo pit -- 6 feet down growing lushly with ferns.  As a kid, I spent much time tossing silage down from the silo above ground, and by spring as the silo emptied, tossing it up from the pit with a ladder inside to get out again.   
  Fall color is coming; the harvest is close by with soybeans yellow, corn brown, and garden vines dying down.  
   My posting here is rare, but every day I post photos from the farm on Facebook.  You can see them at 
On the Farm via Facebook    You do need to signup for a free account there, but if you use the internet and want to keep up with your kids and grandchildren, social media is pretty much needed nowadays.  
   Facebook has been mostly taken over by the boomers as the younger folks find their own niches in twitter, snapchat, instagram, etc.  The difference is partially an sort of continuous feed of information versus most of us on Facebook, a daily check on things. 
  I plan to spend the Ramble day at the Cushing Museum, visiting with the cultural elite who choose history over food and sales (or maybe combine the two).  
  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Polk County WI Fair 2016

The 2016 Polk County Fair is history as we finish cleaning up the historic 1858 Red School house for another year.  It is the historical stop in the fair grounds, a one-room rural school, furnished like it was when it closed in 1958 after 100 years of students learning reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. 
   Margo and I entered lots of apples, baked goods, photos, butter, stories and other items and had a good winning ratio getting 21 ribbons on 30 entries.  Of course, the competition is stiff in some categories and less so in others.  
   Some photos from the school house at the fair this year. 






Friday, July 15, 2016

Moving Forward


   Gardening here on the Hanson farm got a boost with nearly 4 inches of rain the past week, one of them being a 3 inch soaker.  The strawberry crop was poor, the raspberry crop good, the blueberries a few handfulls from 4 plants, and the apples set on only some trees.  The late spring freeze seems to have hindered things this year.
Our garden had raspberries and blueberries for Margo's 4th of July cake -- from scratch

    We have a pumpkin garden at the lake cabin, a squash garden on the farm, the fruit farm on the farm with some lettuce, beans, peas, etc., and a water melon farm on the sand land along the River Road.  They seem to be doing pretty good, setting fruit and so far we have kept the weeds in check.
The squash garden has small squash on the vines.  Had to ring it with an electric fence as the deer ate the blossoms.

    Scott and I put a new porch roof on the cabin.  Back in 1975 we built it and a year later added a porch with a roof made of plastic panels. Forty years later, it had sort of deteriorated from sun, wind, and branches dropping on it.  We tore off the old panels and supporting boards and then completely replaced the roof, this time with steel panels screwed to new treated wood rafters and cross boards.


    Barring wind and tree falls, it should last 40 years too.
 
   Monday afternoons each week for the past several years, I have volunteered at the Luck Museum Ravenholt Family History Research Center to help folks find their family roots.  We have free drop-in help, and also get email requests through our website and local museums.  I spend about 8 hours per week in doing computer searches, local record lookups and other genealogical research as a volunteer.  An interesting detective job that lets me use some of my computer experience and knowledge of local history.

     A request from last week via an email:  "My great grandfather lived near Luck for a time in the 1920s.  Can you find where he lived and how long he was here?"  Usually we get a name, a birth date or death date, and maybe some additional family names.  This time it was that Mr. Iver Iverson, wife Anna and 10 children.  We found them in the 1920 census on Ancestry.com, then in the 1924 platbook in the museum, and then Anna and 5 of her children's obituaries in the Luck Enterprise newspaper digital obits file at the museum.  Sending all of that to the California requester, we got a thankyou that said -- the information in the obituaries gave the information they wanted, and that if they got here on a trip, they would like to see the farm.  In the meantime we will photograph it for her.

   It has been 4 years since Margo found out she had breast cancer that had spread to some lymph nodes.  She had a checkup this week, -- all clear and for the future, she can go back to normal yearly mammograms and doctor visits.  Her initial prognosis was 85% likely to be alive in 5 years, and after a year of harsh treatments, she is doing fine cancerwise.  She has to have some heart checks next time as they have found out that radiation treatments to the chest can damage the heart.  No symptoms, but an echo-cardiogram to see.

 Her back surgeries of 2 years ago are mostly healed.  They left her much weaker than before in leg strength and balance.  Most of the sharp pain is gone, but still some chronic pain.  She has been going to physical therapy weekly and will soon finish with that.  She walks now on even surfaces without a cane, but feels safer with one outside. The surgeries were necessary to stop some very serious damage happening in her spine, so that really wasn't a choice.  Adjusting to lowered physical abilities has been tough, but it helps that she has had continued progress and is likely to continue to improve.  She is able to do some of the things she likes to do, and along with many ibuprofen, aspirin and tylenol, can cope with the pain.  Getting older is not always pleasant, but after 4 years, we are eagerly planning a trip south again in January!


An addition to the garage -- a roof for a tractor or car

The 100 year old barn needs paint, but even more a new roof